Maryam observes, feels, thinks and then uses a pen. She puts her heart out on the page. She feels herself in the place of her characters.
He came out of nowhere. Stood in front of a man in a suit, who a moment gone, tried to give a handicap some money without him asking. But he got interrupted by another man wearing dirty clothes, messed up hair, a bowl in his hand and calling out loud, “Just a Rupee, please! Just a Rupee, please! May Lord give you more than you give.” He wouldn’t let go of the man in the suit until he had been given the money. And the man in the suit gave away the money to get rid of him.
Another day gone, with the same routine of waking up, eating that’s available, taking the same bowl in his hand and off to streets of anywhere he could go with the same calling every day, “Just a Rupee, please! Just a Rupee, please! May Lord give you more than you give.” The night has come, with the cold air blowing, making him shiver in a single thin shirt that he wore. And it was time for him to go home. He had collected enough for the day.
Walking back home, getting into his shelter made up of merely wood and bricks, washing his hands and eating what he bought in his way back home, he only thought of being rich. ‘What would it be like being rich?’ ‘If I were rich, I would have a big bungalow and a big car, so many things to eat and so many luxuries.’
Laying on a rough mat, lost in deep thoughts, imagining himself to be a rich person, and cursing his 28 yrs. of life as a beggar; he fell asleep.
He woke up from a deep peaceful sleep. The morning sun shone fresh on the sky. He rubbed his eyes and looked around. He didn’t want to get up but he had to. It was another day and he had to go out again and ask for money from people. He had to get ready to be the first; first to ask for money. He had to be fast enough to collect money before any other beggar.
But what was that? Why can’t he move his legs? What happened? He sat straight on the mat with his legs straightened. His legs paralyzed. But how? Why? And there were crutches placed just by his side. Was he disable? When did that happen? But why did it feel like, he had always been a disable person?
However, he astonished in his mind but accepting things through his body, took grab of the crutches, stood and moved as if he had always been depending upon those wooden worn out crutches. His mind locked in his skull, trying to control his body but couldn’t, just sat inside the boney cage and watched the show.
He had nothing to eat. His stomach grumbled. He looked around and his hands involuntarily reached for a basket full of small things used in daily life. Such as combs, hairpins, makeup brushes, pocket mirror, ear picks packets etc. He took the basket and went out. Walking with difficulty, unable to handle the crutches and the basket at the same time, he had reached the streets. The same streets where he used to beg. But then, holding that basket, he was there to sell those little things.
He sat there; the same place where he had just yesterday seen a handicap sitting and selling something. He felt like locked in his skull and seeing things from inside the hollows for his ogles.
And involuntarily, his mouth opened and he uttered a few words, “Each thing for Rupees ten! Come and get it!” that tongue that only asked for money was calling out for selling things to get money.
But all his calls in vain because of the calls made out by beggars. The beggars, healthy, able to do the same work with ease that he had been doing for the whole day and didn’t get any money for it. The beggars that just like him once, called out the same words he used to and force people to give them money. The beggars that took away all that should be given to him because he was a handicap, a disable.
And then he saw a man coming near him. A man in a suit, inspired by his ways of earning money rather than asking for it. But what was that, where did he come from? A man wearing dirty clothes, messed up hair, a bowl in his hand and calling out loud, “Just a Rupee, please! Just a Rupee, please! May Lord give you more than you give.”
No, the man in the suit just gave away the money to the beggar. Why did he do that? Because the beggar wouldn’t let go of him until he had been given the money.
He felt miserable by what just happened to him. He cursed the beggar. ‘They can and they don’t work, a better way of life, a better way of earning.’ ‘They are snatching rights of handicaps and disabled people like me’ ‘They should be banned in the country’ ‘there are so many ways of earning’ ‘If I can try why can’t they?’ All these thoughts tearing up his soul, bringing up tears in his eyes and trashing his heart.
He wasn’t able to earn a single Rupee for the whole day. Many people came near and passed by him without noticing him. He was calling out the same sentence again and again for the whole time. Ignored and unnoticed by many, there appeared expressions of distress on his face.
He saw many beggars getting money from people by just being a stubborn and by not letting go of their shirts and coats. He got more and more distressed by each moment passing by. Not a single Rupee in his pocket, nothing to eat and dizziness ruling over him. His body tired of holding onto itself, getting weaker moment after moment, and shivered as the sunset and the night came with the howling of night animals.
He grabbed hold of the crutches and stood, took the basket and again, walking back home with difficulty, unable to handle the crutches and the basket at the same time, he thought ‘If only I was a healthy person, if only I could walk without these crutches, if only I had strong legs’ ‘I would have never asked for money, I would have earned it by right ways’ ‘If only I was not disable’.
Laying on a rough mat, lost in deep thoughts, imagining himself to be a healthy and normal person, and cursing his 28 yrs. of life as a disable; he fell asleep.
Gulping a mouthful of air, opening his eyes wide, sweating from all over his body, he breathed hard and fast. The sun shone fresh on the sky again. He sat instantly and looked at his legs. He was afraid to move them. Was he a disable? He put his hand on his heart thumping against his ribs as if it would burst or break his ribs. He then slowly moved his legs and felt the movement. A tiring smile came over his face, and eyes filled with tears, making his throat dry and heart jumped due to happiness.
He stood up and jumped and moved his legs crazily and ran in the small space of his house. Laughing as a mad and touching his legs again and again, feeling that warmth of blood rushing through his veins in his legs. He was happy that he was not a disable, and there it was a sudden flash of the nightmare he just had. His smile disappeared and unintentionally he started crying. He touched his body, he was normal, in good health, but what had he done to himself? Kept himself unclean for days, didn’t wash up, and wore dirty clothes, for what reason. Just to seem like a beggar, 28 yrs. of life wasted upon what? Begging. Despite that he could have achieved so much till that time of his age. He cried and cried as all the guilt came upon smashing his soul. He looked at the sky, and thanked God for the extraordinary life, normal and healthy.
He stood. Wiped his tears. Washed up himself and his clothes. And promised himself to stop being such a beggar and start utilizing his health for a normal life. And that was the first day in 28 yrs. that he had stepped out of his home searching for a job with an aim to earn money and not ask for it.
Nevertheless, the money earned is better than the money asked for.